There are certain filmmakers whose influences are not only right on the surface, but who make knowing the reference part of the enjoyment. To watch a Quentin Tarantino movie, for example, is to be made aware of six dozen other movies by several directors you may or may not have even heard of, but when he does a Sergio Leone or Liu Chia Liang pastiche, you know it. For others, it’s much less evident, based on a number of factors: genre difference for one thing. That’s why this video showing how much Wes Anderson was influenced by Stanley Kubrick is so revelatory.
On the surface, you wouldn’t think any two filmmakers could be more different; Kubrick with his cold, antiseptic perfection of various genres doesn’t seem to gel with Anderson’s brand of upper-class comedy of manners. But Anderson, as he himself says in the beginning of the video (edited and shared to Vimeo by Dante Guerilla), was heavily influenced by Kubrick and there are certain inescapable visual cues when the films are shown next to each other.
While not everything in this video exactly matches one-to-one, there are a couple that truly stand out. The first of these is the super long zooms, either snap zooms or slow. In Kubrick’s later films, he became almost obsessed with a zoom that either starts enormous and goes to a person’s face or some other tableaux, and Anderson certainly has grown to use those a lot in his more recent films as well.
The second is the flat-angled pan across a particular set, either going all the way from one end of the room to another, or sometimes through an entire building. Kubrick used these extensively in A Clockwork Orange and The Shining, and Anderson has basically made those his entire M.O. for the way he shoots his films. Everything takes place on a flat proscenium, which is his visual style, but it all came from Kubrick to a large degree.
Whether subtle or overt, Kubrick definitely influenced Anderson, and you probably won’t be able to watch either’s films the same way again.
Let me know any other similarities you found in the comments below!
Image: MGM, Fox Searchlight/Dante Guerilla